This post is half rant and half request for advice. Sorry in advance for the length.
You may recall my past threads about my boyfriend “Greg” and the never-ending saga regarding his ex-wife “Susan” and their three sons. (Links to past threads below).
Nutshell version: Greg has been fighting for custody of his children (ages 10, 12, 14) for the past two years due to his ex-wife being a complete loser and subjecting the kids to constant chaos. Two years and $20,000 in legal fees later, Greg’s efforts have failed miserably, proving to me that no matter how much evidence a father has on his side, the family court system is seriously biased against fathers and will take the mother’s side 999 times out of 1,000.
Expanded version: Two years ago, Greg discovered that Susan’s new husband/stepfather of the three boys (“stepfather”) was arrested and charged with molesting a 13-year-old girl (the daughter of family friends). The evidence was damming, but Susan refused to believe her husband had done anything wrong. She insisted it was a big set-up, and that the victim’s family was out to get her, even to the point of extreme paranoia where she thought the family was stalking her, etc. She believed her husband had done nothing wrong, and stood by him even after he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to three years in prison.
During the time period between when stepfather was charged and when he was sent to prison, Greg took legal action to protect his sons and to ensure they were not living under the same roof as a child molester (because stepfather was free on bond pending trial). In essence, he was seeking custody. A judge briefly ordered the stepfather to move out of the home, but 2 months later allowed him to move back in. Finally, stepfather went to prison. Susan all the while believed in his innocence.
Greg proceeded with his custody fight. The kids were not doing well with Susan. Susan was now a single mother with 6 kids (Greg’s 3 kids plus 3 other kids with stepfather). Susan has never worked outside of the home and had no source of income other than Greg’s child support. She lived like a nomad, moving here and there with different people who would take her in. She even abruptly moved the kids from California to the East Coast to live with her husband’s family while he was in prison. After 5 months, she moved back to CA. The kids were showing major signs of stress and depression and were doing very poorly in school.
In December 2009, the court assigned a family therapist to do a custody evaluation. It took over 10 months for this report to be completed. During this time, the therapist did home visits and interviews with Susan, Greg and the kids. In my opinion, this “evaluation” took about 8 months longer to complete than it should have. Anyway, the report was released in October 2010 and it was very negative for Greg. In essence, it said that the boys should remain with their mother, because they have lived with her for the majority of their lives and are very emotionally attached to her. Also, in interviews with the three boys, they all said that they had no desire to have any sort of a relationship with their father and did not want to see him ever again or even talk to him on the phone. This was a huge shock and surprise for Greg to hear, because he was completely unaware that the boys had any bad feelings towards him. It was very clear that this was brainwashing by the boys’ mother; a textbook case of parental alienation.
Another outcome of the therapist’s evaluation is that Susan finally realized her husband’s guilt. You see, as part of the therapist’s evaluation, documents concerning the stepfather’s criminal case were requested and made available to Greg and Susan. Susan finally read – in disgusting detail – what her husband had done. Up until now, her husband had hid the truth and the court evidence, from her. Now she finally got to see the testimony and evidence and finally realized that her husband was a child molester. She filed for divorce and cut off all contact with him. (She also subsequently learned that her husband also raped their 16-year-old foreign exchange student twice.) But these revelations are all for naught.
Even with Susan’s revelation that she was mistakenly defending a child molester for 2 years, with the damming recommendations in the therapist’s custody evaluation, Greg’s 2-year-long case is essentially dead in the water. According to his lawyer, all he can do now is essentially come to a meager “settlement” with Susan that will leave the kids with Susan and allow Greg with very limited visitation.
Today was the settlement conference hearing. Greg’s attorney basically gave Susan’s attorney a settlement offer and if she does not accept it, the judge will schedule it for trial. This is something Greg cannot afford. He is OUT OF MONEY. He has already spent about $20,000.
So he pretty much has to give up with his tail between his legs. But to add insult to injury, Susan is going to ask the court to have Greg pay all of her legal fees. This is at least $15,000 or more. THIS IS SALT IN AN ALREADY GAPING WOUND. Greg is already destroyed financially… this would essentially bankrupt him. His attorney says that legal fees are awarded solely on the “ability to pay.” In this case, Susan has no money. She has no job, no income. She is on welfare for her three youngest children. So even if Greg only made $1 versus Susan’s $0, he would still have to pay her legal fees. At least this is what we gather from what the attorney says.
Dopers, I come to you for any knowledge or advice on any part of my story, but in particular knowledge on the legal fee matter. Even though this case was drawn out for 2 years solely due to Susan’s refusal to acknowledge that her husband was a child molester, Greg will most likely have to pay her huge legal fees. This is frightening and infuriating. Many thanks to those who have read this post.
Postscript: Mere weeks after Susan filed for divorce from her husband, she had taken up with a new man, “Mark,” who within a month, had moved in with Susan and her 6 kids, they became engaged, and he filed for divorce from his wife. He is an unemployed high-school-dropout, who has been married twice before, with 3 children of his own. This is the type of Jerry Springer-esque white trash drama these poor kids have to live in. Meanwhile, the boys’ grades are falling, and the 14-year old who is in 9th grade just got a failing report card. He even failed PE. The future does not look very bright for these children, and there is nothing Greg can do about it.